Jailed HDP leader takes case to top court after Turkey fails to implement ECHR ruling

A lawyer of the jailed former co-chair of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is applying to Turkey’s top court after the country’s refusal to implement a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling, Artı Gerçek news site reported on Wednesday.

The application to Turkey’s Constitutional Court by Selahattin Demirtaş’s lawyer, Mesut Beştaş, follows a ruling by Europe’s top court that a prison sentence handed down to the HDP leader over his remarks on a TV show was a violation of his rights.

Demirtaş has been jailed since Nov. 4, 2016, over a string of terrorism charges, and received a separate 10-month prison sentence for “conducting propaganda of a terrorist organisation” after comments he made on Kurdish Roj TV in 2005.

Following the latter sentence, Demirtaş’s legal team applied to the ECHR, which in 2019 found Turkey guilty of violating the Kurdish leader’s freedom of expression and ordered the country to pay the former HDP co-chair compensation. Turkey dismissed the ECHR’s 2018 call for Demirtaş’s release, saying the European court's decisions were non-binding.

Beştaş’s subsequent request for a retrial to acquit Demirtaş of all charges was rejected Diyarbakır court.

Beştaş maintained the court’s rejection was arbitrary and unlawful as it ignores the ECHR ruling. 

Despite several court orders to release Demirtaş by both domestic Turkish courts and the ECHR, the HDP politician remains behind bars in Edirne province’s high-security prison, located west of Istanbul.

Turkey has dismissed an ECHR ruling in 2018 that called for Demirtaş’s release, saying the European court's decisions were non-binding.